Man vs. Agency: Born Survivor

My name is Al and I`ve been working at Spring for about a month now. What follows is my survival guide to all my fellow advertising newbies. Some things I learned in my time here others I sourced from my co-workers experiences.

Man vs. Agency: Born Survivor by Al Theuri (read: Grylls)

Okay, you did your due diligence and now you are in: You are finally working in an ad agency. But now what? Though you are extremely proud of your own personal achievement, no one else seems phased at all — and rightfully so! Looking through the company bios you quickly realize that the people around you are not only some of the more attractive members of society, they are also some of the smartest and most talented people you are ever likely to meet. So, to help you through your first couple of weeks, here is my advertising survival guide.

They can smell fear

Agency folk are a bit like sharks. Or bears. Or Sharkbears

Or pretty much any predatory creature with canines long enough to force Kristen Stewart to make another tough decision(#TeamJacob). And similar to their blood-thirsty counterparts, agency folk seem to have the ability to sense fear. Prepare yourself for a lot of good natured ribbing, my recommendation is to avoid letting anyone know that you are scared with a healthy dose of Axe body spray every morning.

That being said, you will probably meet the most genuinely friendly people you have ever met while working at an ad agency. They are all passionate about what they do and are always willing to help out wherever and whenever they can.

Take a deep breath

If you played your cards right the agency you are at is busy, I mean so busy you forget to eat. So busy that you seriously consider the time saving attributes of adult diapers. The point I’m getting at is: Don’t forget to breathe. Just take it one task at a time and you will get through it. Unless, of course, you over did it with the Axe. Then you might want to hold your breath for a little while… and probably go home and take a shower.

Get stuck in

It’s easy to get into a groove of always just doing enough and for a while no one will notice because they are really busy (see above point). But remember; you are surrounded by a bunch of over-achievers — people who look at the world and generally think “I could probably have done that better.” So, really get in there- perhaps, “stuck in” if you want to stick out.

It’s probably going to be nothing like Mad Men

Again, assuming that you are in an agency that has a decent number of clients, you will almost never be doing the 5 martini lunches. Again, you will be too busy for this. But if we are being completely honest, this is probably a good thing; no one really wants to be a functioning alcoholic whose main concern in life is navigating from one office affair to the next… right?

Grow thicker skin

If you are one of those people who can’t take criticism, constructive or otherwise, you probably want to work on that. Or, alternatively, you could hire a really good therapist to get you through what will inevitably be a very short stint in advertising.

If you are in an agency that values the work they put out, you will find that everyone cares about the quality of your work and will not hesitate to let you know when your work isn’t up to par. What you have to understand though is that when people say “Your shit is crap” they are really just saying “I love you, and though you are very talented, this shit is crap.” Well, at least that’s what I tell myself.


When you walk in through that door, despite how talented you are, you will find that there is still much to learn. Take time to foster your own perspective, grow and develop your skills to reach your furthest potential. The biggest hindrance to your time in an agency is stagnancy and complacency! Remember how hard you worked just to get here? That’s just a taste of how hard you are going to have to work to stay here and be good here.

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